Spyropoulos, Yannis. “Beys, Sheikhs, Kolbaşıs, and Godiyas: Some Notes on the Leading Figures of the Ottoman-African Diaspora.” Turcica 48 (2017): 187–218.
Despite the fact that during the last decades Ottoman slavery became the subject of numerous publications, it is only very recently that the history of the black people in Ottoman lands has caught the attention of Ottomanists. The few relevant studies begin to unfold the complicated cultural and organizational relations that existed inside the Ottoman black communities, yet the data available on the subject are still marginal, referring mainly to the black population of large cities, such as Istanbul and Izmir, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This paper presents some relatively or completely unknown cases of black communities in the Ottoman Empire and revisits some of the interpretations that pertain to the history of the already known ones. In particular, its main focus is on the role of the leaders of the Ottoman black communities, often referred to in the sources with various titles, such as “Sheikhs,” “Beys,” “Godiyas,” and “Kolbaşıs.” Its purpose is to expand our knowledge on these enigmatic figures, to elaborate on their role in the religious and administrative practices of the Ottoman-African diaspora, and to see if there were any common features connecting their functions throughout the Ottoman history in different times and places.